The Communist Party condemns the Ontario government’s move to make anti-Communist propaganda a mandatory part of the Grade 10 curriculum. This attempt to rewrite history, which pretends to educate students about a genocide, comes only months after the Canadian Parliament applauded a veteran of the Nazi Waffen SS and while the provincial and federal governments are actively supporting a genocide against Palestinians in Gaza. This new curriculum pretends to defend democracy while it is actually a McCarthyite attack on democracy. It is an attempt to stand history on its head in order to strengthen right-wing reaction here in Canada.

At the end of November, Stephen Lecce, Ontario’s Education Minister, announced that “the rise of extremism, including Communism and Marxism, are direct threats to our democracy, social cohesion and values as Canadians.” For this reason he said that he would “mandate learning” about “the horrors of state-sponsored persecution of Ukrainians in the Holodomor in Grade 10 Canadian history” and that the new curriculum would be focused on “Canadian values” ensuring that “all students learn about the adverse consequences of extreme political ideologies like those from Stalin’s totalitarian communist regime”.

This announcement mandates that all students in Ontario will now be force fed the campaign being pushed by the ultra-right led Ukrainian Canadian Congress, which the Ontario government quoted along with the media release on the new curriculum. Lecce also announced $400,000 in funding to the mobile “Holodomor Mobile Classroom”, a massive recreational vehicle, which will visit Ontario public schools. The Ukrainian Canadian Congress has been a major sponsor of the Holodomor (famine-as-genocide) campaign, which is designed to obfuscate their own history of Nazi-collaboration and Ukrainian ultra-right nationalism.

The Ukrainian ultra-right, which has carried out a bloody fight against progressive sections of the Ukrainian community in Canada for decades, is pushing a “double genocide theory”. This fake history states that the Ukrainian ultra-right nationalists were heroes who fought both the “Soviet genocide” and the Nazis. This falsifies history. Ukrainian nationalists were key allies of the Nazis who were active participants in the holocaust against Ukrainian, Polish and Russian Jews. It is also a denial of the heroism of 4.5 million Ukrainians who helped defeat Nazism as part of the Soviet Red Army. This same historical revisionism was behind Parliament’s multiple standing ovations to Nazi war veteran Yaroslav Hunka, in the fall.

It is true that there was a famine in Ukraine and other parts of the Soviet Union in 1932-1933 and that millions died. The  causes were both natural phenomena (drought) and the unstable political situation in the new Soviet republic. However, there was no intentional genocide of Ukrainians by the Soviet authorities. In fact, life expectancy rose from 36.6 years old in Tsarist Ukraine in 1900 to 50 years old in Soviet Ukraine by 1939.

Stephen Lecce’s new curriculum is not being advanced because of a mistaken historical record. It is being put forward for ideological reasons. As the exploitation, oppression, war and environmental destruction inherent in capitalism are becoming more obvious to Ontarians, Lecce and his government hope to convince students that there is no alternative. As his government fails to deliver housing for people, privatizes hospitals and pushes down wages for workers, they have a real need to put forward the idea that socialism is not a viable alternative.

Cynically, this announcement was made as the Ford government publicly attacked efforts of the Palestine solidarity movement to stop an active genocide being carried out by Israel with the complicity of our government. More than 10,000 children have been killed in Gaza since October. Almost all 2 million Gazans have been displaced and the Israeli leadership has made their genocidal intentions clear by repeatedly saying their goals are mass murder and irreversible ethnic cleansing.

If the Ford government was sincere about teaching Ontarian students about genocide, it should start with the genocide that was and is being carried out in Ontario against Indigenous people. When Canada’s genocide is taught in Ontario classrooms, it is often presented as a mistake which ended with the closure of the last residential school. The truth is that the Canadian government continues to carry out policies resulting in genocide, including the ongoing theft of land and Indigenous children from their communities. The Ford government’s own record in ignoring Indigenous sovereignty in Northern Ontario to favour the expansion of mining is only one example.

This anti-Communist attack is also an attack on democracy. We have seen many examples in history, including in Canadian history, where attacks on the Communist Party and Communists result in the repression of democratic and progressive forces and the rise of reaction. We call on unions, community organizations and all democratic minded Ontarians to fight against this reactionary ideological offensive.